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Desktop publishing is the process of combining many pieces and parts into a single finished product. To finish even the smallest project, you’ll have text files, photos or other images, perhaps some line drawings and even a spreadsheet. You might have mulitple drafts each with slightly different photos or other graphic elements. And at some point you’ll want to get all the final files associated with your project to a printer.

Packaging is the answer! InDesign’s packaging feature does a great job of finding all your pieces and parts and putting them in one place. It also goes through a process of evaluating your file to look for problems that might be encountered when printing. We’ll save that discussion for another tip.

Here’s how to package a document:

With your file open, do the following:

  • From the file menu, select “Package…” (or use the keyboard command Ctrl-Alt-Shift-P)
  • A “Printing Instructions” dialog box will appear. This will create a small TXT file from the information you provide.

> For the “Filename”, enter the name you want for the TXT file, not the name of your InDesign file (unless of course you want them to have the same name).

> Enter your contact name and information.

> Provide any instructions you might have for the printer. We typically want to communicate instructions via e-mail or using the printer’s forms, so we use this area to provide the very basics along with information about where to find more complete instructions.

> Click on “Continue” after completing your Printing Instructions form.

  • InDesign is now going to “package” your InDesign file and all linked files into a single subdirectory. The first dialog box will allow you to identify a location and provide a name for the new folder (subdirectory) the files will be placed in. You can navigate to anywhere on your computer or network as you would when saving any file.

Options to Select:

We always recommend selecting the following options when packaging unless there is a compelling reason not to:

> Copy Fonts (you’re allowed to provide your document’s fonts to your printer, but please don’t violate font copyright laws by making free copies for all your friends)

> Copy Linked Graphics (that’s the primary purpose of the exercise, right?)

> Update Graphics Links in Package (this means that when you open your InDesign file from the package folder, the pieces and parts will be linked to the graphics in the newly created “links” folder under your package folder)

Two Cautions:

  • The packaging process does not copy/save images that are on the pasteboard. If you need to keep an image on the pasteboard, you will need to temporarily place the image on a page of the document or manually copy it to the newly created subdirectory.
  • Be careful. Packaging can lead to a version control nightmare if not used properly. Read this tip for more info. You can thank me later.

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